Brad Barber lay motionless in the intensive care unit at Sutter Roseville Medical Center after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke. Neurosurgeon Kavian Shahi, M.D., of the Sutter Neuroscience Institute, treated Barber, who was intubated and closely monitored. The outcome looked grim. Brad Barber's wife, Lynda Barber, had to tell her grown sons Greg and Spencer that their dad might not survive.
At 50 years old, Brad Barber was successful professionally, but his great loves were his wife and sons. He also enjoyed the outdoors, especially beach vacations with his family and playing golf. He seemed too young and vital to be in the hospital near death.
While hundreds of people in churches prayed for Barber and his family, including those in a tiny church in Africa, hospital staff recommended to his wife that they work together to prepare an "end of care" plan. During the heartbreaking planning session, Dr. Shahi stepped into the room. Smiling, he said, "Your husband just gave me the 'thumbs-up' sign."
As Barber slowly turned the corner to recovery, his wife toured the Sutter Rehabilitation Institute located on the medical center's campus. The Institute, an inpatient rehabilitation center that treats patients disabled by illness or injury, provides 24-hour rehabilitation care for patients who are able to tolerate an intensive therapy program of at least three hours a day. Due to his severely weakened state, Barber could not transfer right away to the acute rehabilitation center.
Instead he was discharged to a local post-acute care facility that provides short term rehabilitation. There Barber worked to regain his strength and begin physical therapy to ready himself for the Sutter Rehabilitation Institute. This included very fundamental tasks, such as sitting up for the very first time after the stroke. Weak as a kitten, Barber lay in his facility bed and wondered if he'd ever walk again. He yearned to be well and dreamed of a vacation at the beach with his wife and sons.
One day, while Lynda Barber was visiting her husband in the local facility, she saw a familiar face arrive. It was Lisa Leis, R.N., from Sutter Rehabilitation Institute. Leis came to determine if Brad Barber was physically ready to transfer to the Institute. Although still weak and not able to use his left side, Leis determined that Barber was ready for the Institute's therapy program. Barber arrived at the Institute during the first week of January. His treatment included speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.
In the beginning, staff used a lift to help Barber out of bed and into a wheelchair. Later, during one of the therapy sessions the staff placed Barber into a walking harness that lifted him up on his feet in order to learn to stand, and eventually walk. Barber says that experience was amazing. He could finally envision his future as being back to normal, as someone who could take care of himself. Maybe he'd even get to the beach with his family.
Finally, after 11 weeks of hospital and rehabilitation care, Barber was ready to go home. Through the long and sometimes frightening weeks, Barber went from being close to death, to alive but severely disabled, to walking with a cane.
Barber and his wife spent a final night in the Institute's independent living apartment, which features a living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Lynda Barber was able to take care of her husband on her own that night knowing Institute staff were close by if she hit an obstacle. The next day the couple headed home.
These days Brad Barber is still undergoing therapy but on an outpatient basis. He is back to playing golf, a few holes at a time, and this summer he is finally taking his family to the beach.